Ed Sheeran, Sir Paul McCartney, Dua Lipa, and Annie Lennox are among the 1,500 acts who have signed an open letter calling for the British government to help save the live music industry.
The stars – who also include The Rolling Stones, Skepta, Rita Ora, Coldplay, Eric Clapton, Sam Smith, Sir Rod Stewart, Liam Gallagher, Florence + the Machine, George Ezra, Depeche Mode, Iron Maiden, Lewis Capaldi and Little Mix – have appealed to Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to support the rocked industry after 2020 festivals were axed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
It reads: “UK live music has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade. But, with no end to social distancing in sight or financial support from government yet agreed, the future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak.
“Until these businesses can operate again, which is likely to be 2021 at the earliest, government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies and the end of this world-leading industry.”
The stars have also called for a clear timeline for when venues can reopen without social distancing, a comprehensive business and employment support package and access to finance, and full VAT exemption on ticket sales.
Dua said: “It’s incredibly important for artists like myself to speak up and support the live music industry in the UK. From the very start playing live concerts up and down the country has been a cornerstone for my own career.
“I am proud to have had the chance to play through all the levels … small clubs, then theatres and ballrooms and into arenas, and of course festivals in between each touring cycle.
“But the possibility for other emerging British artists to take the same path is in danger if the industry doesn’t receive much needed government support in the interim period before all the various venues, festivals and promoters are ready and able to operate independently again.”
Liam Gallagher added: “Amazing gigs don’t happen without an amazing team behind the stage, but they’ll all be out of jobs unless we can get back out there doing what we love.
“I can’t wait to get back to playing for the fans.
“But in the meantime we need to look after the live industry. There are so many great people in it and we all need to support them until we can get back to playing live.”
Several of the stars were due to play at Glastonbury this summer, but the festival was cancelled as a result of the pandemic.
Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis said: “The UK’s venues, festivals, performers and crew bring so much to this country’s culture and economy, but they are now facing desperate financial challenges.
“If the government doesn’t step up and support the British arts, we really could lose vital aspects of our culture forever.”
Following the letter’s publication, fans, artists, and venues, as well as others, have posted pictures and videos of the last shows they attended using the hashtag #LetTheMusicPlay.